: Mind the Gap (Epilogue)by MhalachaiNotes
: Done. Done! Thanks for reading, and keep an eye on the sequels, Candlelight
and The 'Me' in Team.~*~
Dawn fumbled with the door to the Animators Inc. office, managing to turn the knob on the second try. Craig looked up from the computer as she entered the office, and smiled.
"Hey, we heard you were okay," he said, stand up and coming around the edge of the desk. "How do you feel?"
Dawn smiled back. "I've been better, but I've also been worse." She dropped her purse onto one of the client chairs. "I'm good enough to go back to work, even."
Craig hesitated. "Are you? I mean, it's eight and I should bail, but do you want me to wait with you until someone else gets here?"
Dawn made herself keep smiling. "No, it's okay. Really," she added when Craig just stood there. "Go. It's fine."
The door opened again and Anita shuffled into the office. She winced at the bright overhead lights. "Morning."
"Are you sure you're supposed to be here?" Dawn asked, her eyebrows going up. "You look like crap."
Anita pushed her hair back from her face. "Right back at you," she snapped.
Behind Dawn, Craig made a noise in his throat. "She's back to normal," he mumbled.
Anita glared. "Goodbye, Craig."
"Right." Craig gave Dawn one last look. "It's good that you're back."
Anita leaned against the secretary's desk as Craig walked out of the office. In the stillness, Dawn thought she could almost hear Anita's breathing. "Did they really let you out of the hospital?" Dawn asked.
The corner of Anita's mouth twitched in what might have been a smile. "No, I knotted some sheets together, went over the wall at sunset. Of course they let me out. Although I'd almost rather be in the hospital," she grumbled.
"Why? Are you feeling bad?" Dawn asked. She'd had to deal with enough Slayers to know when someone was hiding the pain, but Anita wasn't acting quite like that.
"No." Anita crossed her arms over her chest. She looked weary. "I'm just tripping over guys trying to make sure I'm okay. It's a bit..."
"Suffocating?" Dawn suggested.
Anita looked at Dawn, and nodded. "You sound like you've done this before."
"Well, I am the kidnap queen back home."
"None of that was in the police files," Anita said. Her voice was soft, but Dawn went still.
"A lot of that was before Addison and Clark."
Anita's eyes were bright with curiosity and something else, something a little less innocent. Dawn was careful as she shook her head and said, "All sorts of things. All solved in the end."
"Uh huh." Anita let her eyes linger on Dawn's face for just a moment, then looked down at the desk. "Actually, I came in to see what mess Bert's made of my schedule. Zane said the thing yesterday was in the paper. That always means more phone calls and more thrill-seekers."
"Fun." Dawn opened the appointment book, and winced when she saw the marks under Anita's name. "Why don't I bring the files in to you?"
Anita swore under her breath. "Fine, you do that." She muttered to herself all the way down the hall.
Dawn seated herself and began to pull all of Anita's case files together. She had almost finished the task when Bert walked into the lobby. He stopped dead when he saw Dawn sitting at the desk.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded.
"Um, filing?" Dawn offered.
"After what happened?"
Dawn opened her mouth to respond, but Anita came storming out of her office. "Oh, no you don't," she said fiercely.
"Don't what?" Bert turned to face Anita. He towered over her, but of the two, Dawn would lay her money on Anita any day.
"Don't you dare start on Dawn."
"But she wasn't here on Friday."
"She was tied up," Anita snapped. "Big bad guys, tried to get a demon to eat Larry?" She glared up at Bert. "And it was all because of this job! They never would have come after her if not for this job! You should consider yourself lucky if she doesn't sue for hazardous working conditions!"
Bert paled, took one look at Dawn sitting innocently at her desk, then slunk off to his office. The door closed carefully behind him.
"Hazardous working conditions?" Dawn asked.
Anita raised her eyebrows. "It got him to shut up, didn't it?"
Dawn grinned, then pushed a stack of folders at Anita. "Here. Go work."
The phone rang as Anita picked up the folders. "Right," she said as she headed back for her office.
Dawn took a deep breath, then picked up the phone. "Animators Inc., how can I help you?"-fin